The Paradoxes of Creativity: Getting Comfortable to Get Uncomfortable to Get Comfortable

As the trolls in “Frozen” (affiliate link) sang “People make bad choices when they’re scared or mad or stressed.” Part of this is because our human response to pain is fight or flee. Stress hormones overrun our ability to think imploring our bodies to get active and do something. This response isn’t a very good adaptation in modern times, unless you’re staring down the headlights of an oncoming vehicle, because the stress response is triggered anytime our mind perceives danger whether physical or otherwise.

Right now, with coronavirus sucking up the airwaves and no clear messages about its end or whether we should sacrifice ourselves or our grandparents to Mammon for our children, we’re faced with these chemicals coursing through our veins and no way to fight them effectively. Exercise can help, but not even Robert Pattinson, our next Batman, is still exercising. With all this stress and our discomfort as we watch people making bad choices, we need to remember that the same kind of thinking that triggered these catastrophes, and they are more than one, cannot solve the problems it created. (Thanks, Albert Einstein. Seriously, I’m paraphrasing him here.)

The Challenge

This offers us this chilling challenge to find a way out! HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHHAAHAHHA! Of course, there’s always my way… AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! We definitely do not want to choose the way out that the Ghost Host of the Haunted Mansion took. Instead, we want to solve this problem by coming up with new solutions and new ways of doing things. This means we have to examine what isn’t working and propose ways to make it different. To get there, we have to start with being comfortable.

Getting Comfortable

So how do you get comfortable when your faced with stress and problems from all sides. Some people would say you need to eliminate the news. There isn’t much you can do about it, especially if you’re not an epidemiologist. You become angry, scared, confused, and frustrated because no one knows anything and those that have power are contradicting those who know anything. Bleh! We don’t need it. So, if you like to be informed choose a neutral news source, watch only the news, no commentary, from that source, and only watch for about 30 minutes sometime around 5pm your time. This will give you the opportunity to eat and then have a good sleepy-time yoga session before going to bed.

Stay off of social media. Sure, it’s easier said than done, but here you can do a couple of things. Limit your time to a half hour, maybe around noon. Block or snooze those who are arguing about the coronavirus, its response and who’s doing or not doing what; do not argue with them. You will not change their minds. Do not click on the hashtags! There’s no point in looking for trouble; it’ll find you soon enough. Post a picture of your cat or dog or something else positive – this should be your last action before signing off for the rest of the day.

Do some exercise and take a hot shower. Exercise will help eliminate accumulated tension and the hot shower will relax those muscles further. After the shower, be sure to tell your family that you’re taking some time, 45 minutes to an hour is a good start, to yourself and you don’t want to be interrupted. Turn off your phone. Once you’ve done this, you should be ready to sit down to create.

Your Space

Ideally, you’ll have carved out a space for you to create in. It can be a workshop or it can be your laptop, especially if you can stay off social media and avoid news. (Set your home page to something benign, like this photo album of Dunedin, NZ, that way you’ll have to consciously search for a page that you want to see. I guess the Google search page works well, too, because it’s just a big white space, except when they mess with the doodle.) This space should be yours to do what you want. It may allow you paint, to write, to draw, to dance, to do whatever gets your juices flowing and makes you feel alive. It should also allow you to think away from the influences of others.

Once you’re in your space, set the problem in front of you. What is it that needs to change? For most of us, this isn’t going to be “Come up with a cure for the virus or cancer or whatever.” It should be a problem that you’re facing like “what can I do to earn more money,” “what can I do to keep my family safer,” or “how can I change my business to work better in these changing times.” If you’re not the owner of the business, you can still think about it, especially if your management is open to new ideas. (Of course, if you want to think about curing cancer or coronavirus, you can. Just remember UV lights and disinfectants have already been suggested as a treatment possibility by someone who is unqualified to give medical advice.)

Going Back

As our Ghost Host friend says, “There’s no turning back now.” Colloquially, you might say the genie is already out of the bottle, you can’t put it back in. That’s the hardest part for everyone to deal with. So rather than trying to go back to the way things were, because that’s impossible, it’s time to go forward to the way things should be. Think about that, recognize that change makes people uncomfortable, and realize that you need to be comfortable, so you can become uncomfortable, so you can get to a new level of comfort.

For example, everyone was comfortable with the phone. When mobile phones were first introduced, they were the size of a brick and very uncomfortable. That technology though allowed the idea of cell phone to advance, and now almost everyone is comfortable with cell phones, even my 90-year-old grandma has one though she hasn’t entered the age of smartphones, yet. It’s a paradox of creativity: comfort leads to new ideas and discomfort but those new ideas will become comfortable soon enough. (If you want more about how the “Haunted Mansion Is Creativity,” check out my book!)